KILLAM T— RCMP were trying to reassure a nervous community in central Alberta on Wednesday as they searched for an armed man who was seen leaving a home where two Mounties were shot and another man was found dead.
Sgt. Patrick Webb said a search was on for Sawyer Clarke Robison, 27, whom a witness saw leaving the property as four officers from the detachment in Killam, about 160 kilometres southeast of Edmonton, arrived on Tuesday afternoon.
The officers were part of an ongoing investigation the small detachment had been involved in for the last week. They were executing a search warrant for an illegal .45-calibre handgun.
Gunfire erupted after they arrived and two of the officers, Const. Sheldon Shah and Const. Sidney Gaudette, were cut down.
Webb said Robison could be armed with long-barrelled weapons and should be considered a high risk. The sergeant warned members of the public not to approach Robison.
“We don’t believe he is a danger to the public in general,” said Webb. “He is believed to be armed.
“We’re trying to determine what happened in the house last night and his involvement.”
Robison, the primary resident of the house, is not a suspect, but is considered a person of interest, police said. He was not facing charges.
“It is definitely in his best interest to contact the RCMP to speak with our investigators as soon as possible,” Webb said at a briefing Wednesday morning at the Killam detachment.
He said the dead man had been shot, but it wasn’t clear whether it was police gunfire that killed him. The man was not identified.
Several weapons were recovered at the house, Webb said.
He explained why there were so many officers at the site Tuesday afternoon and overnight — and why they didn’t enter right away.
“Once we knew who the people involved were, and once we knew there was some very significant weapons involved, we had to be extremely careful that we weren’t walking into a situation that would put more members at risk.”
He said the primary goal was to find Robison.
“The role of all the RCMP members here is to locate this individual and try to resolve this without any more shots fired or any injury to anybody.”
Shah and Gaudette suffered significant injuries to their torsos, but were recovering in Edmonton hospitals after surgery. One has been on the job for five years; the other for two.
Sawyer may be driving a black 2000 Chevrolet Silverado with Alberta licence plate number UZE 545. He is described as being just over six feet tall and weighing 200 pounds. He has brown hair and eyes and is very fit in appearance.
“We are trying to get the word out to him … to say we would like to talk. We would like to resolve what’s happening here,” Webb said.
He confirmed the investigation was related to an earlier call RCMP had responded to involving a domestic dispute, but didn’t say what the connection was.
There were several emergency response teams, serious crimes investigators and members from other detachments still at the shooting site. There were also three armoured vehicles and a tactical team present.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, more commonly known as ASIRT, was also investigating.